Carlos Corberan puts faith in important West Brom trio
Carlos Corberan is confident his remaining wide options can step up to fill the void left by injured duo Matt Phillips and Jed Wallace.
Phillips will not feature for four months due to a torn hamstring and Wallace will miss the next couple of games, including Sunderland today, with a shoulder issue.
It places onus on natural wingers still available to Corberan, Grady Diangana, Jeremy Sarmiento and Tom Fellows.
Diangana has been a regular in the side since returning from six months out with an ankle injury in September. Albion are building up the robustness in Sarmiento, who is on a season-long loan from Brighton, and has started back-to-back games. Academy graduate Fellows, meanwhile, has taken advantage of injuries in the camp to burst on the scene with a series of impressive displays from the bench this term.
“I think right now, behind every injury there is opportunity, always, for someone,” said Corberan. “Right now without Wallace and Phillips, Phillips for a long time, we have three players who are specifically for that position – Jeremy, Tom Fellows and Grady.
“Plus, you have other players – (Brandon) Thomas-Asante can, (John) Swift can. You have possibilities but hopefully I don’t need to use them because the others are ready and available.
“Jeremy is a player who after his injury has come back to a good level. He’s played two games in a row in the first XI. He’s beginning to show he’s physically capable of the demands of the competition. He must keep this.”
The head coach revealed he seen aspects of Ecuador international Sarmiento in training this week that have given him more encouragement.
There have been calls for Fellows, 20, to be rewarded with a first start of the season and Corberan predicts that could be around the corner during the demanding period ahead.
“Tom Fellows hasn’t had the exposure of first XI football yet, but I’m sure he will,” the boss added. “These next number of games in a row he will be there. I am very happy with Tom Fellows and happy with his minutes.
“I’m happy with the development of Jeremy. In training I saw improvements in the things I wanted to see.
“Even in the last games, even though Diangana didn’t show his potential, always he’s a player who when having a bad day he can give you three or four special actions. They are the three players who can play as wingers.”
Corberan has been fluid with his Albion formation since taking over, but even when operating with a back five and wing-backs he has typically replied wide forward or wing options.
The head coach has been consistent in his message that players available to affect a game from the bench are as important as those in the starting XI – and with options more stretched of late, there is more pressure on those in reserve.
“When you play with wing backs it’s different because sometimes you don’t need wingers,” added Corberan. “Depending on the situation, there are different things you can do.
“Right now, I’m telling you you can be watching Asante, Maja, Swift as number nine or10s, Grady, Sarmiento, Fellows as wingers. Pipa can play as a winger. Asante can play as a winger but without Wallace now I’ll be more focused on him as a number nine.
“For four positions, still we have six players. That’s minimum you need, to impact a game from the start and from the bench.”